- 120Hz 3D-ready display
- Great gaming performance
- Very good build quality
- Short battery life
- Limited screen resolution
- 3D effects still require external device
The Clevo W860CU 3D is a 15.6" gaming notebook powered by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285M with a 120Hz WXGA resolution display.
The W860CU 3D is the latest NVIDIA 3D Vision notebook from Clevo. This model is equipped with a WXGA resolution 120Hz-panel, an NVIDIA GTX 285M graphics card, and an Intel Core i7 processor. In this review we take a look through its supplied NVIDIA 3D glasses and see how well this notebook stacks up against the competition.
Our AVADirect Clevo W860CU 3D Specifications:
- 15.6-inch WXGA 120Hz 3D-ready display (1366×768)
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
- Intel Core i7 820QM processor (1.73GHz, 8MB L3 cache)
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 285M 1GB GDDR5 graphics card
- 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM (2x 2GB)
- 500GB 7200RPM hard drive (Seagate Momentus XT)
- Intel Wireless WiFi Link 6300AGN
- Built-in Bluetooth 2.0+
- Blu-ray Burner/DVD-SuperMulti
- One-year limited warranty
- 3-cell 42Wh battery, 120W power supply
- Weight: 7.27 lbs starting
- Dimensions: 14.72″ (W) x 10.37″ (D) x 1.65″ (H)
- Price as configured: $2,699 at AVADirect.com
Build and Design
The Clevo W860CU has a stealth appearance with black plastic body and thin silver border wrapping around the perimeter. No Clevo or AVADirect branding was evident from the outside, giving the screen cover a very clean and stealth appearance. An AVADirect sticker was included on the palmrest, but is adhered in a way that would be easily removed if you were determined enough. The entire notebook is covered in a matte black finish, except the border directly surrounding the screen which is glossy black. Overall the look was very professional for a gaming rig.
Build quality is surprisingly good with most of the notebook feeling fairly rugged. The screen cover gives a great deal of protection to the display, preventing ripples or other distortion from impacts or pressure applied to the back side. Inside, the notebook is really rigid without any flex on the palmrest or keyboard. We were able to apply a significant amount of pressure to the areas on each side of the touchpad and all around the keyboard without the chassis flexing one bit. The keyboard tray was held securely in place, preventing any secondary movement while typing. The bottom of the notebook was designed to keep system components easily accessible while still giving a good deal of protection to the bottom.
The Clevo W860CU 3D is very easy to upgrade, with all primary components accessible through a single panel on the bottom of the notebook. After removing a handful of screws you have access to the processor, graphics card, both heatsinks, system memory, and wireless cards. The hard drive was equally easy to access, located underneath the battery. No “warranty void if removed” stickers were found anywhere, making this notebook very friendly for users interested in upgrading components down the road.
Screen and Speakers
The Clevo W860CU 3D is the first 3D-enabled notebook we have reviewed at NotebookReview.com. It was very interesting to see how well this notebook compared to the desktop 3D options and we are pleased so say the experience is nearly identical (the screens are smaller!). We chose Left 4 Dead 2 to test out the 3D-capabilities of this notebook, with settings maxed for the WXGA resolution and the 3D-field set to about 15%. After an adjustment period it was really easy to get into the game, although I did have some mild eye-strain related to the NVIDIA glasses positioned on top of my regular prescription glasses. Another thing to consider is the reduced brightness when using the 3D-mode with glasses, as the shutter effect reduces the overall brightness by about half. In our office we didn’t have any huge problems viewing it under our bright fluorescent lights, but experiences may vary.
The NVIDIA 3D shutter glasses included with this notebook require an external USB transmitter to function. While it leaves the possibility open that the notebook can work with newer shutter glass technology, it would have been cool if it had a transmitter built into the screen bezel. This would have reduced clutter for LAN parties, although it would have the problem of becoming obsolete sooner if the technology was replaced. Currently to buy an additional pair of glasses for a friend to watch the game, expect to pay just under $200 for the current going rate on a NVIDIA 3D Vision kit.
In Left 4 Dead 2 to give an example of the 3D-effect, user HUD information is displayed on the front without any depth added, the guns stick out into the area like they would in real-life, and the zombies vary in distance to your player. It’s a cool effect and really adds another level to the game that is missed by only playing in 2D. With that said I am not sure if it would make you a better gamer though.
The W860CU has a 15.6″ WXGA resolution panel supporting a refresh rate of 120Hz that makes it 3D-compatible. In our tests we found colors and contrast to be very nice thanks to the glossy screen surface and viewing brightness to be more than adequate for 3D-viewing. Without the 3D glasses dimming the screen, we found the panel to be more than bright enough in bright office conditions. With the 3D glasses between my eyes and the screen, the display was dimmed, but still more than useable in the same brightly lit conditions. Vertical viewing angles were average with colors starting to invert or wash out with about 15 degrees of tilt forward or back. Horizontal viewing angles were better, with the colors staying accurate past 60-degrees, when some reflections of surrounding objects started to overpower what was being displayed on the glossy surface.
Even though this notebook may appear like a large multimedia system, its bulk goes into the high-end processor and graphics card, with their associated cooling systems. The speakers are rather small, located right below the screen, on top of the keyboard. For listening to music or movies they would probably be fine, but if you really want to get the best experience the SPDIF or HDMI out would give the best signal to a home theater system. Headphones are also another option for the road, where privacy might be important.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Clevo W860CU 3D has a Chiclet or island-style keyboard that has black keys with black inner trim. The keyboard was very comfortable to type on and very sturdy. We noticed no flex under heavy typing pressure thanks to a strong framework beneath the keyboard tray. For a notebook of this price it would have been nice to see a backlit keyboard, as they are starting to crop up on notebooks like the Alienware M11x priced under $1,000. Individual key action was smooth and required very little pressure to activate any particular key. Key wobble was at a minimum and wide keys like the space bar, enter key, and shift key engaged without any binding.
The touchpad included is a Sentelic model with multi-touch capabilities. It supported all the standard two-finger movements like zooming and scrolling. Sensitivity out of the box was great, needing no adjustment during our testing. One thing we did notice was a slight lag, but it wasn’t as bad as we have seen it in some models in the past. The touchpad surface was large enough to complete most gestures without running into the edges and the surface has a nice smooth texture that is easy to slide your finger across. The touchpad buttons are located directly beneath the touchpad and are easy to trigger. They give off a small click when pressed and have shallow feedback.
Ports and Features
The Clevo 860CU includes plenty of external I/O ports for expansion, including three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, eSATA, DVI and HDMI-out, audio jacks, a modem, and a network input. Surprisingly this notebook didn’t include any VGA out for legacy devices. Seeing both USB 3.0 and eSATA was nice since it gives the user multiple high-speed options for connection external storage. The notebook also featured an ExpressCard/54 slot and SDHC-card reader.